chapter  6
20 Pages

Inside local government

The world inside local government is dominated by two sets of actors: elected councillors and appointed officers. Formal power resides with elected councillors but in practice officers, by virtue of their knowledge and expertise, frequently exert considerable influence in shaping policy. Not all councillors and officers are equal; senior officers and senior councillors together frequently exert particular influence, comprising what is often known as a ‘joint elite’. As this chapter shows, the crude divide between elected councillors (who make policy) and appointed officers (who advise and implement) is not helpful; the realities are far more complex. Nor is it helpful to see a joint elite of senior officers and senior councillors as totally dominant in policy-making terms. On a number of issues, influences from, for example, junior officers or councillors or party backbenchers can be important in shaping policy. The joint elite model needs to be broadened out.